For a long time the purveyor of sensible family cars and middle-of-the-road SUVs, Volvo has rediscovered its performance mojo thanks to a collaboration with racing outfit and vehicle tuner Polestar. The V60 Polestar estate is the first true performance model born from that partnership. Only 750 will ever be made, though it’s pitched more as a flavour of things to come, rather than an all-out assault on the established fast-four-door crowd.
What is it?
Outwardly it’s no different to the regular V60 Estate. The Polestar shares that car’s handsome design and squat dimensions. The only real clue to its performance being extended sills and bumpers, and unique 20-inch alloy wheels. Oh, and the pinging ‘Rebel Blue’ paintwork – Polestar’s trademark colour.
Under the bonnet, however, there is a re-worked (read: with a much bigger turbo) version of the T6 3.0-litre petrol motor that was until recently offered in the standard V60 line up. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox and sends power to all four wheels for seamless acceleration and outstanding traction. Quoted performance figures are impressive, if not currently quite a match for rivals from BMW and Audi. The Polestar will get from 0-62mph in five seconds flat, and will romp all the way to 155mph before its electronic speed governor calls time.
On top of this the Polestar benefits from trick suspension, stiffer anti-roll bars and a strut brace, which means the chassis can cope with the generous power on tap.
What’s it like to drive?
If the looks don’t give the go-faster game away, then the noise on ignition certainly will. The beefy motor gives off a deep, purposeful growl that’s unlike any Volvo we’ve ever heard before. Move off and the first thing that strikes you is the suspension. Much firmer than the standard model, it provides great body control in the bends, but can be slightly jarring, particularly on heavily rutted roads.
Around town the automatic gearbox is easy going, shifting upwards seamlessly, though it can be eager to change down a gear too quickly if you explore the throttle pedal’s travel. Give it everything and the Polestar simply launches at the horizon. No wheel-spin, no wasted energy, just 345bhp applied cleanly to the tarmac and bystanders left in disbelief as this outwardly sensible car howls past them emitting a noise more akin to an Italian exotic than a family estate car. It doesn’t disappoint in the corners, either, with the suspension and four-wheel-drive system working together to give a feeling of absolute stability, no matter how aggressive or ham-fisted your inputs.
What’s it like inside?
The cabin is carried over from the regular V60 meaning a logical – if slightly dated – dashboard design, which majors on ergonomic form over styling flash. Volvo is renowned for offering some of the most comfortable seats available, and the Polestar doesn’t disappoint, though the chairs are now much more heavily bolstered, which adds to the sporting overtones along with the carbon-fibre trim and stainless steel pedals. It’s loaded as standard with plenty of toys, with the heated steering wheel and fantastic stereo system being particular highlights. The Polestar manages to isolate passengers from wind noise well, too, though there’s no getting around the drone from the enormous tyres at higher speeds, which can percolate annoyingly into the cabin, particularly on coarser surfaces.
Is it practical?
While there is ample room for front seat passengers, those in the back may find legroom a little on the stingy side. It’s still suitable for adult use however, and with the same large boot carried over from the regular V60, there’s no reason the Polestar can’t be used as a daily family car. Visibility is pretty good all round, and the car’s compact stature makes it a doddle to manoeuvre. Parking sensors are included as standard, just in case, though.
Should I buy one?
You can’t, we’re afraid. Only 125 V60 Polestars are coming to the UK and all have been spoken for, despite the high asking price. It seems the appeal of a under-the-radar performance car that isn’t from the usual suspect German manufacturers holds real appeal with British buyers, and it’s not hard to see why. Objectively it may not be as fast or frugal than the Audi S4 Avant or BMW 335i Estate, and it is expensive even in this company, but the Polestar feels unique in this market, and is every inch a competitor for these highly rated cars. If this is a sign of Polestar models to come, they can’t arrive soon enough.
You can search Motors.co.uk for a regular Volvo V60 estate here.
Volvo V60 Polestar
List price: £49,775
Engine: 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbocharged
Max speed: 155mph (electronically limited)
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Fuel economy: 27.7mpg (combined)
Emissions: 237g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: 5 stars (standard V60)